We have received this information from the Fish Health Inspectorate for GB businesses which import and sell fish to Northern Irish businesses. It says:

As you are aware there is a significant trade in non-susceptible ornamental aquatic animals to the island of Ireland. Currently movements between Member States of non-susceptible ornamental aquatic animals to closed ornamental facilities require no heath certificates or notifications the trade is completely free.

The common practice currently is for importers to bring in consignments from third countries (e.g. Singapore) to a UK Border Control Post (BCP) where it is cleared for entry into the EU. Once cleared the consignment is released from the BCP and part or all of the consignment is placed on a carrier for transhipping to Ireland while the remainder is taken back to the importers premises or direct to customers.

From the 1st January 2021 it will no longer be possible for the trade to operate in its current manner with respect to transhipping aquatic animals to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as we will have left the EU and the UK BCP’s will be unable to clear consignments for entry into the EU or Northern Ireland.

To continue trading with the island of Ireland we see that the industry has three options:

  1. Consignments of ornamental aquatic animals are brought into the UK BCP’s as normal where they are cleared to GB standards and are released. The animals are then taken to the importers premises where they are held pending an inspection and certification by the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI). Inspections by the FHI need to be booked at least 5 working days in advance using the EXP1 form and inspections can take place up to 72 hours in advance of the export. Once certified by the FHI the animals can then go to Ireland where they will have to enter Northern Ireland through a designated port of entry or the Republic of Ireland through a BCP designated for live fish. The responsible operator has to give prior notification of the arrival of the consignment to the border control post in the Republic of Ireland or to the designated port of entry in Northern Ireland.
  2. Consignments of ornamental aquatic animals are brought into UK airports and are health certified to their final destination in Ireland by the Competent Authority of the exporting country. The animals remain airside and are not cleared at the UK BCP and are transhipped directly on another flight or by bonded road transport to their final destination via in Northern Ireland through a designated port of entry or the Republic of Ireland through a BCP designated for live fish. The responsible operator has to give prior notification of the arrival of the consignment to the border control post in the Republic of Ireland or to the designated port of entry in Northern Ireland.
  3. Consignments of ornamental aquatic animals are brought into any of the EU BCP’s where they are cleared to the standard of the Member State in which the final destination lies (NI and RoI) and released. They are then either flown to Ireland where they can enter via any airport. Or taken by road where they will transit GB en route to Ireland where they can only enter via in Northern Ireland through a designated port of entry or the Republic of Ireland through a BCP designated for live fish. The responsible operator has to give prior notification of the arrival of the consignment to the border control post in the EU.

Defra is currently finalising the UK rules for live animals transiting to Ireland.

With regard to animals transiting UK the EU transit rules from an EU Member State through a third country to another EU Member State are:

In case of transit from the EU through the United Kingdom to the EU, live animals have to be accompanied by an intra-Union trade certificate.  They must be presented for official controls to the competent authority of the exit point or of the border control post of exit from the EU and to the border control post at the re-entry into the EU, including the respective notifications in TRACES. At the border control post of re-entry, each consignment undergoes a documentary check to verify that the animals originate in the EU. The responsible operator has to give prior notification of the arrival of the consignment to the border control post of re-entry into the EU.

These provisions apply regardless of the conditions which might be required by the United Kingdom to transit on its territory.

Movement Assistance Scheme

A new Movement Assistance Scheme has also been set up to help businesses which trade with Northern Ireland. You can find out more here.

There’s also a telephone hotline to give businesses a real person to talk to about issues that still puzzle them! Call them on 0330 0416 580 Monday to Friday.